As Laurel Cohen, 38, and her husband Dave Cohen, 40, looked forward to the birth of their first child last spring, they and their doctors dismissed Laurel's abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and constipation as normal symptoms of pregnancy. But in May, five weeks before the London woman's due date, Laurel's pain got so bad that she was admitted to a hospital where scans revealed a massive tumor on her liver, reports the Telegraph. Four days later their daughter, Ruby, was delivered by caesarean, at which point Laurel was rushed to another unit to biopsy her tumor. That's when the occupational therapist who worked in oncology learned she had terminal bowel cancer that, undetected, had spread to her liver.
In spite of four rounds of chemotherapy, Laurel's body eventually stopped responding to treatment and she was transferred to hospice. Her husband spent the first weeks of Ruby's life "running between neo-natal to be with Ruby and the cancer ward to be with Laurel," and says in her final days he was allowed to stay the night with Laurel and could "hear her crying out in pain." She died on July 26, 2015, when Ruby was just 10 weeks old. Says Dave: "After her death I so wanted someone to blame, but the doctors did everything they could. Every symptom she had was so easily explained by her pregnancy." And while "there are no words" to describe losing the woman he met at a youth summer camp in 1990, he says he finds strength in their daughter. These days he's busy doing fundraising runs in Laurel's memory, reports the Jewish Chronicle, pushing sleeping Ruby in a stroller all the way. (This mom died 10 days after delivering triplets.)